Bere Regis, Dorset

Bere-Regis, a small ancient town and a parish in Dorset. The town stands on the Bere rivulet, adjacent to a vast tract of barren heath, 1½ mile N of the river Piddle, 6½ miles W from Wareham station on the L. & S.W.R., and 8 SSW of Blandford-Forum. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Wareham. It dates from the time of the Romans, was a residence of Queen Elfrida and of King John, and suffered severely from fire in 1634, in 1788, and in 1817. It was once a market-town, but is now an agricultural village. It was constituted a free borough by Edward I., but never sent representatives to Parliament. The parish church is a large ancient edifice with a square tower; contains a round Norman font and numerous monuments of the Turbervilles and others; and was entirely restored and repaired in 1875. There are Congregational and Methodist chapels, a free school with £30, and some small charities. King John's palace stood in a field east of the church. The manor house of the Turbervilles afterwards occupied the same site. Cardinal Morton, who figured prominently in the time of Henry VII., and Bishop Turberville of Exeter, were natives.

The parish includes the tithing of Shitterton. The hamlet of Milborne-Stileham was separated from Bere for ecclesiastical purposes in 1890. Acreage, 8313; population, 1144. Half of the manor belonged to the Turbervilles from the time of the Conquest, and the other half was given by Henry III. to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, given again to the King's brother Edmund, and given by Henry VIII. to the Turbervilles. Woodbury Hill, ½ a mile east of the town, was the site of a Roman camp; has still a circular entrenchment of 10 acres, formed by three ramparts and ditches; commands a very extensive view; and is the scene of an annual fair, formerly very famous, on 21 and 22 Sept. The surrounding tract has many barrows. The neighbouring downs are a resort of sportsmen. The living is a vicarage, united with the vicarage of Winterborne-Kingston, in the diocese of Salisbury; net combined value, £170. Patron, Balliol College, Oxford.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5